Polenta Crisp Topping Recipe


I was recently staying at a country home in France, Since the house was surrounded by red currant bushes and the branches were loaded with tiny red berries, I spent a good portion of the weekend picking the little red orbs, relieving the branches of the tiny clusters of gorgeous little fruits. As I greedily filling my mouth with the puckery berries, I was overcome with a feeling of having to bake something. So all was not lost…and bake something I did!

Rhubarb-Red Currant Crisp


I made a terrific Rhubarb and Red Currant Crisp with Polenta Topping. I sliced rhubarb into little pieces (about 8 cups), tossed it with some sugar (about 1/2 cup), some flour (about 3 tablespoons), a vanilla bean, and a few big handfuls of freshly-picked red currants, and voila, we had dessert practically right from the garden.

Seeing White…Currants


Fruit crisps are perhaps the best and easiest of desserts to make during the summer, when all the great fruits and berries are at their peak. They’re incredibly easy to put together if you’re anything like me and keep a bag of Polenta Crisp Topping in the freezer, so you can make one at a moment’s notice. In general, I find that 2 to 4 tablespoons of sugar, and 1 tablespoon of flour, plus a dash of vanilla is just about right for almost any mix of fruits and berries. Mix it all together and put it in a 2-quart baking dish. Cover with crisp topping and bake in a moderate oven until the fruit is bubbling and the top is crispy and nicely-browned.

If using plums or apricots, double the amount of sugar, since they get rather tangy once baked. Although I used rhubarb and red currants in mine, you can use any mixture of peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and plums. Add a few raspberries or blackberries as well.


Polenta Crisp Topping
Print Recipe
Enough for about 8 cups of fruit filling
3/4 cup (105g) flour
2/3 cup (90g) polenta
1/2 cup (55g) almonds or walnuts, lightly toasted
1/2 cup (110g) firmly packed light brown or cassonade sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
8 tablespoons (115g) salted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, chilled
Put the flour, polenta, almonds or walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a couple of times to mix everything together.
Add the chilled butter pieces and pulse until the butter is finely broken up. Continue to pulse until the crispy topping no longer looks sandy is just beginning to hold together.
If you don’t have a food processor, chop the nuts finely with a chef’s knife then work the butter in with your hands or use a pastry blender.

Storage: Topping can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Can also be frozen in a zip-top bag for up to one month.

Recipe Adapted From: Ripe for Dessert.


  • a dear, dear friend
    June 27, 2006 5:40am

    David – who’re “we” – who’s your companion at your country retreat? Your readers demand to be told! Those who have for years nursed the hope of becoming part of “we” are keen to know – AND to see a pic or two? Yummy food – shame about the power cord, though, but that loss was our gain! We all love you.

  • June 27, 2006 10:05am

    Wow. On all accounts.

  • Molly
    June 27, 2006 2:01pm

    Mmmmm…summer fruit crisps! A man after my own heart. I made a brilliant nectarine crisp for dinner* last night. Tonight, it’s plums. I’ll have to mix up a batch of polenta topping after my current pecan-oat topping runs out.

    *Yes, for dinner. I had roast chicken for dessert.

  • Lu
    June 27, 2006 7:20pm

    David, I have been reading you for a long time. And, only recently posted for the first time. I find your blog to be informative, delicious and HIGH-LARIOUS. These recipes are fantastic. I must need to buy your current book, but how can I get an autographed copy?! I love your Paris comments and your relationship with the city that pulls anyone in forever who has ever visited. I’ve been 4 times – and twice in the past 6 months – and it never stops, does it? Now I need to read the book you linked to in this post. I apologize to all of you over there for eating my Pierre Hermes macaron (maybe even drooling) as I walked down Rue Bonaparte. Excusez-moi. Merci, merci, David. —Lu

  • June 28, 2006 1:12am

    I got way too excited about apricots, cherries and peaches all being available at the same time this weekend at the Frog Hollow farmer’s market stand, so I wound up with an overabundance of fruit. Last night, I made a crisp. Instead of polenta, I used almond flour, and threw in a handful of slivered fresh almonds with the fruit. Though the peaches had a tendency to “weep” their juices, I think it tasted pretty good.

  • June 28, 2006 4:25am

    David, what’s all this talk about not bringing enough chocolate? And eating crisps and frittatas? Is this the same guy who just posted about his muffin top? Or perhaps you are one of those magical (and annoying) people who just has to mention he wants to shed a few pounds and lo and behold the pounds disappear.
    Nonetheless, I’m sure you managed to find ways to entertain yourself out in the bushes amongst the currants?

  • June 28, 2006 5:25am

    DDF: Each week I hold a contest here on the site. Readers are asked to send ideas for an all-expense paid fabulous vacation spot they want to take me. When I get them all, I choose one and go with the lucky reader.
    Hint: I’m hoping for Greece next!
    Readers? The ball is in your court…

    Jennifer: Link fixed!

    Matt: You should see the mound of red currants that got picked if you want to be wowed (and my red-stained fingers.)

    Lu: If you want your books autographed, I list my appearances on my Schedule page here on the site. Also guests on my tours can have their books signed as well. There are not many classes offered in the near future, but check back regularly (and if you subscribe to the site via the box on the sidebar) you’ll get notifications of my whereabouts. Looking forward to it!

    Michele: Who you callin’ annoying?

    Iamchannelle: You mean there’s recipes for those things?

    (Check Kelly in Barcelona for her recipe, which she just posted.) I add bacon and rosemary.

  • June 28, 2006 8:20am

    You did right to go to the countryside! It’s crazy in Paris today… all these people came out of the woodwork to shop?! Thanks for showing the pictures of the red and white currants. I will try some of the white currants someday!

  • June 28, 2006 6:25pm


    Fingerlings are just a broad category for relatively small potatoes, generally in somewhat finger-ish shape. Pomme de ratte potatoes are a type – in New York, when I visited a couple of weeks ago, they’re being sold as “La Ratte” fingerlings…



  • June 29, 2006 4:15am

    Your pictures of red and white currants are beautiful. Looks like you figured out your new camera pretty quickly!

  • July 2, 2006 4:45pm

    I so want to try your crisp. Too funny Levis!!!